Thursday, 28 July 2016

Hirschprung Collection: An History of Danish Art

On a rainy day in the Danish capital, I visited the Hirschprung Collection. A beautiful museum hidden between the Danish National Gallery and a cemetery. The collection focuses on Danish 19th art, and ... well only on Danish 19th century art!

C.W. Eckersberg, A nude woman doing her hair before a mirror (1841) Hirschprung Museum (Copenhagen) Copyright: Hirschprung Museum
C.W. Eckersberg, A nude woman doing her hair before a mirror (1841)
Hirschprung Collection (Copenhagen)
Copyright: Hirschprung Collection


The building itself is a piece of art, an austere antique temple on the outside with an homely 19th century inside. The rooms are small which makes you feel you are visiting someone's home. The dichotomy between the outside and the inside is close to the novice's feelings about Danish art, a bit austere and academic from the outside but warm and full of surprises when you take the time to engage with the artists.

L.A. Ring, Spring. Ebba and Sigrid Kähler (1895) Hirschprung Museum (Copenhagen) Copyright: Hirschprung Museum
L.A. RingSpring. Ebba and Sigrid Kähler (1895)Hirschprung Collection (Copenhagen)
Copyright: Hirschprung Collection

We were welcomed by a lovely Danish man, who asked us to put our coats and bags in the cloakroom. A side note on cloakrooms in Danish museums, they are amazing! Most of the time they are free of charge and big enough to put your bags and your coat, to enjoy peacefully your visit. These small details make a big difference when a visit a place, you feel like the visitor wellbeing has been thought about, and the cloakrooms are also perfect for families who do not have to carry their bags around the museum.

Wilhelm Bendz, Interior from Amaliegade. Captain Carl Ludvig Bendz standing and Dr. Jacob Christian Bendz seated (c. 1829) Hirschprung Museum (Copenhagen) Copyright: Hirschprung Museum
Wilhelm Bendz, Interior from Amaliegade. Captain Carl Ludvig Bendz standing and Dr. Jacob Christian Bendz seated (c. 1829)Hirschprung Collection (Copenhagen)
Copyright: Hirschprung Collection

An audioguide was included in the visit. You could learn more about the building, the history of the collection but also about Danish artistic mouvements or events in Danish history. It had a selection of "twenty masterpieces" but you could listen to many more. I followed this selection, because as a novice in Danish art I wanted to learn about the main artistic mouvements and painters of the period. Furthermore, you can listen to the audioguide's entries on the museum's website.

Christen Købke, Portrait of the landscape painter Frederik Sødring (1832) Hirschprung Museum (Copenhagen) Copyright: Hirschprung Museum
Christen Købke, Portrait of the landscape painter Frederik Sødring (1832)Hirschprung Collection (Copenhagen)
Copyright: Hirschprung Collection

The collection was created in the 1860 by the tobacco manufacturer Henrich Hirschprung (1836-1908). At the beginning of his collection, he collected contemporary paintings, but slowly started collecting artworks of the first half of the 19th century. This period is commonly named the "Golden Age" of Danish art, with artists such as  Christoffer Wilhem Eckersberg or Bertel Thorvalsden and many more. This new period of creativity in Danish history was inspired by Romanticism, and a return to nature and its beauty. In contrast, the Modern Breakthrough is a realist movement emphasising on the reality of the modern world, which is also heavily represented in the collection.

Hirschprung Museum (Copenhagen) Copyright: Hirschprung Museum
Harald Slott-Møller, Spring (1896)HHirschprung Collection (Copenhagen)
Copyright: Hirschprung Collection
If you go to Copenhagen, please do not miss this amazing museum!  

Monday, 11 July 2016

The AHRC Commons / Owning the Commons (Conference University of York)

On  21st June 2016, the University of York hold a conference on Common Ground with the AHRC Commons.
"Common ground is a celebration of the AHRC Commons community. This gathering is an opportunity to share knowledge and expertise, to establish new networks and projects, to be inspired, and to further develop the case for the importance of arts and humanities research."

AHRC Commons at University of York (2016)
AHRC Commons at University of York (2016)

I decided to follow the session on "Owning the Commons" and particularly the talk on "Every One's Right: Retrospectives and prospects on urban Common Land". During this session, academics and poets talked about their vision of common lands and how to define them, and "use" or "re-use" them. 


Dr John Wedgwood Clarke at AHRC Commons (2016)
Dr John Wedgwood Clarke at AHRC Commons (2016)

The session focused on reclaiming common lands, either in practical terms or in poetry. My favourite intervention was by Dr John Wedgwood Clarke from Hull University. His poetry reflected his experience in a common land near Hull, a place under the cliff, where people are squatting. This village has its own streets and rules. The place itself is a mix of shabby houses and  beautiful landscapes, and has a "radical silence". Dr Wedgwood Clarke is not just writing about it but has filmed himself walking around the village and reading his favourite poems, including The Songs of Innocence by William Blake. He is knocking on doors but no one seems to be "home", only industrial objects are left behind. The land which is part of the common seem extremely empty yet human presence is really strong. 

The Voice of the Ancient Bard. (William Blake)
Youth of delight come hither.

And see the opening morn,
Image of truth new born.
Doubt is fled & clouds of reason
Dark disputes & artful teazing.
Folly is an endless maze,
Tangled roots perplex her ways.
How many have fallen there!
They stumble all night over bones of the dead
And feel they know not what but care;
And wish to lead others when they should be led



On the side of the talk, two artists were creating a common land manifesto. They draw and wrote on the walls about the different topics and their input as artists. The result was a powerful mix of writing and drawing, reclaiming not only the land but also the room and academics' researches to give them back to the "people" and to the land. 

Common Lands Manifesto at AHRC Commons